Teen suspected in taking pictures will stay in custody » Albuquerque Journal
Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
In 2018, Juan Saucedo Jr., then 9, was in his mother’s car when his father shot a man twice during a fight in the highland high school lane.
On Friday, authorities said Saucedo Jr. shot another eighth grader with his father’s gun on lunch break at Washington Middle School.
Prosecutors did not indict Saucedo Sr. in the 2018 incident and ruled as a self-defense shootout, but can now bring charges against him and his wife over the school shooting that killed 13-year-old Bennie Hargrove.
Saucedo Jr., also 13, is charged with murder and illegally carrying a lethal weapon on school grounds when Hargrove dies. Authorities say Hargrove tried to stop Saucedo from harassing his friends when Saucedo shot him multiple times in front of numerous classmates.
Saucedo is tried as a teenager because he is under 14 years old. When the Saucedo family was reached by phone on Tuesday, they declined to comment.
On Tuesday afternoon, Saucedo’s father – accompanied by an interpreter – and her mother accompanied the boy to a virtual hearing in front of the children’s court. Saucedo Jr. called from the Bernalillo County Youth Service Center.
Public defender Dennica Torres addressed Saucedo Jr.’s competence, arguing that because of his mental health problems, he needed counseling and treatment that he would not get while in detention.
“Juan is in special education, he has mental health problems,” she said. “He’s been in counseling for some time and has a therapist. He takes medication for his psychological problems, he goes to school regularly. “
Torres said Saucedo’s parents were “very present in his life” and a youth probation officer said that Luz Saucedo “looked after their son and his well-being”.
However, Hargrove’s grandmother, probation officer, and prosecutor Mari Martinez moved to have Saucedo Jr. detained pending his trial.
Judge Catherine Begaye agreed and ordered him to be detained in the center.
“The child poses a significant risk of harming others and I cannot ignore the allegations in this case,” she said.
Washington Middle School students returned to class Tuesday and crisis counselors were provided.
The community was “shocked” by the shooting “shock and grief”, Albuquerque Public Schools superintendent Scott Elder said in a statement.
“I can’t stop thinking about the eighth grader whose life ended so violently and way too soon,” he said. “And not about his classmate – actually just a child – who is accused of pulling the trigger and is now charged with murder.”
Elder said the district has increased the police presence at the school and is encouraging witnesses to come forward.
Prosecutor: Not known if parents will be charged
Meanwhile, 2nd District Attorney Raúl Torrez is unsure whether his office will indict Saucedo’s parents under the same law brought against the parents of a teenager who fired a gun in a Rio Rancho high school.
“We will not be able to make a final decision on whether such charges are appropriate in this case until the Albuquerque Police Department has completed their investigation into Bennie Hargrove’s murder and details how Juan Saucedo Jr’s murder weapon is,” said the Torrez spokeswoman.
In June 2019, Tamara and Dale Owen, Joshua Owen’s parents, were charged with contributing to a minor, a fourth-degree crime. Prosecutors allege the Owens were told their son threatened to shoot the school and they denied having a gun, but a little less than a year later Joshua Owen took an unsecured pistol from her bedroom and tried to kill students in V. Sue Cleveland. shoot high school before the gun jammed and he fired into the air instead.
Tamara Owen’s trial is pending, but Dale Owen, the father, has since passed away.
Records of the family’s long history with APS
Court records, police reports and witnesses describe the Saucedo family’s history with Albuquerque public schools – including the Highland High shooting and a classroom brawl – as well as Saucedo Sr.’s criminal history.
In November 2015, an APS teacher said she was with a parent and daughter in a classroom at Zuni Elementary School when Luz Saucedo walked into the room without warning and attacked the mother. She said it started pulling her hair, but the women soon ended up on the floor and Saucedo’s daughter started attacking the woman too. The teacher said the fighting had lasted a few minutes and at one point Saucedo Sr. came into the room, but she did not see him intervening in the hand-to-hand combat. In 2017, the parent filed a lawsuit against APS and all three saucedos alleging the mother had been hospitalized as a result of the incident and was seeking damages. The lawsuit was later dismissed after “matters were resolved amicably between them”.
Then, in 2018, an argument between parents that began with words and a fist escalated to poles, bats, and gunshots in the highland high school student collection lane.
When the police arrived, Alex Placencio was shot twice in the hand and thigh, and Saucedo left the scene in his truck. Parts of the fight were captured on cellphone videos and several witnesses told police that the men took turns in the fight, with some saying Saucedo was defending himself when he fired the shots.
Placencio said that’s because the video doesn’t tell the full story.
“This guy shot me and nothing was done about it. They said it was our fault. … I don’t think it was like that, ”he said on Tuesday.
Placencio said Saucedo “stared” at him for weeks before Saucedo came to his door and confronted him. He said he went up to Saucedo, who hit him on the chest. Then, he said, Saucedo’s wife handed him a gun while Saucedo Jr. watched from the passenger seat of her car. Placencio said he pulled a bat out of his trunk and hit Saucedo’s truck before Saucedo grabbed a pole and the men went for it.
“He goes down – on his knees – and I hit him a couple of times,” he said.
Placencio said he took the bar off Saucedo and took a step back when Saucedo’s wife stood nearby.
“I thought we were done and he draws his gun,” he said. Placencio said Saucedo shot him twice and was about to shoot him again when Placencio grabbed him and the two men started wrestling. He said Saucedo Sr. then jumped into his truck and fled.
Luz Saucedo told the police they didn’t know Saucedo Sr. had a gun or where he got it from. During the interview, the officers pulled a fragment of a sphere from her sweater and marked it as evidence.
Police found the bat and rod with blood on it in Placencio’s trunk and found Saucedo’s truck abandoned on 8th and Copper NW.
The police never found the gun, but Placencio still pulled the bullet doctors from his leg.
“I’m worried that the gun he shot me with might be the same gun his son shot that boy with,” Placencio said, wondering if the bullet would go with the gun that Hargrove was using was killed.
He said, “The cops dropped the case because they blamed both of us, but they never tried to find the gun.”
Torrez’s office said it determined that Placencio was the first attacker and the facts of the case did not support Saucedo Sr.’s indictment or prevent him from owning firearms.
In 2013 Saucedo Sr. was arrested for drug trafficking after police found him with a methamphetamine pipe and several sachets of the drug. According to a police report, Saucedo Sr. told police he was selling meth to get extra money for his daughter’s 15th birthday.
Saucedo agreed to “work off his criminal allegations” by making three controlled drug purchases from dealers, but Saucedo Sr. never got away with it. The case was later dropped because of “an illegal search and seizure” by the police.